“The innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery…”
These are the words said by young Victor Frankenstein concerning the frailty of a young child and the parents who handle this fragile creature. He is describing the importance of carefully raising this innocent being and the potential outcomes for his or her future. This seems to be a foreshadowing of what is going to come into play for young Victor’s future and his dealings with others. For young Victor, he seems to have had rather steady hands in his past. He lived in Geneva Switzerland with his close knit family who seem to be respectable and upright. He seems to be in the category of “happiness” rather than that of “misery” when it comes to his description of those who direct their children. That does not mean misery won’t eventually follow him like a beast stalks his prey.
Where Victor starts his direction down a dark path is in his obsessive fascination with the secret of life. Through his intense studies and experiments as a young boy and in college as a young man, Frankenstein is able to do the unthinkable, create life. This life comes in the form of a grotesque creature of hideous proportions, as we would all come to know as Frankenstein’s Monster. Coming from the background that he did, it could be quite fascinating to see how Victor were to treat this new life and to nurture it into existence. Instead of affection, however, Victor decides a different path entirely; run, scream, fear, reject. This decision of his proves to be an incredibly fatal mistake. How is one to contain this new morbid beast that will inevitably turn into a murderous fiend? How is one to hide this deep and horrific secret for a lifetime without fatal consequences as Victor so desperately wishes to do? The answer to both questions is simple, it can’t be done.
As these two lives temporarily separate, their paths will have to inevitably clash in a blaze of tragedy. Victor goes back to his family trying to cope with the mess he has crafted with his two hands. Along the way finding a romantic bond with his adopted sister Elizabeth (technically, she was brought in with the intention of being his lawfully wedded wife, but still…). All the while hoping he never sees his creation again, and dreading the possibility of said appearance. All the while, Victor’s creature is left to fend for himself in the European wild. As he does this, he finds solace by living near a loving family where he is able to essentially violate their privacy by learning to speak. He learns their ways, practices their ways, desires their ways. When nothing but more rejection comes from this scenario, it will once again make these two creatures lives to merge again, with deadly consequences.
Mary Shelley has put forth a dark and dreary world. It is a world full of sadness, vengeance, and above all torment for two specific individuals and all who come into contact with them. What also can be found within the pages of Mrs. Shelley’s pages are numerous amounts of lessons and spiritual connections we can apply to ourselves. One interesting idea is being careful with the gift of life (even applicable to today’s notions of cloning). There are two separate stand out lessons and themes found within her pages that seemed to hold a significant value to maybe even out lives.
The first key theme I found blinding in this book is the idea that consequences of your heinous crimes follow you wherever you go. Victor wanted desperately to undo the fault he had committed. He tried to run and hide from the fact that he had created an abomination, but it could not be done. Your evil will come back to haunt you wherever you go. Luke 8:17 makes this quite clear to us; that our secrets will ultimately be unveiled for what they are. Along with this thought is the unfortunate domino effect. When Frankenstein made this mistake, and an even greater one by rejecting his creature, everything fell apart. The actions of one heinous crime can ultimately bring chaos and grief to everyone around you.
The second theme seems even more evident and crucial, and that is that all beings equally have the longing for love. It doesn’t matter your race or gender, all search and desire to be understood and appreciated by others. This is where the characters from Shelley’s tale all show their human side. We see it in the likes of Frankenstein, a young confused and dreadfully flawed being. One who made many a false moves, yet still loves and yearns for the intimacy of his close-knit family. It can be seen in the likes of Elizabeth his bride to be, who tries her best to be loving and supportive in the darkest of times. It can be seen in the narrator of sorts, Robert Walton. A Lonely man who deeply longs for a friend of whom he can connect with and share experiences with. He finds such a friend temporarily in a somber Victor Frankenstein. But this can be found in non-more so than the creature himself. He is a beast who was despised by all. A creature who was essentially cast out by his own father, and left to fend for himself. Yes, he goes on to do abominable acts towards the most innocent of civilization. Yet, to see how avoidable it was if he was only truly cared for is where the bitter heart of this book truly lies. “I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on” says the creature. This is a tale that shows just how human we all are. How much we longed to belong and to be loved by someone, by anyone.
This tale is bleak, bleak, bleak. It goes through an endless tennis court match of hating and feeling complete sympathy for both protagonists involved. To see their pain, menace, and endless conflict is truly disheartening. Yet it is in complete contrast to the endless love we receive from our Heavenly Father. In fact, the entire Gospel of Matthew is a great place to study to see how eager Christ is to share how much God is a father like figure to the lost Jews and His desires for their decision to return to Him as children. But it goes without saying, this tale is more of a negative reminder of those things. Mary Shelley has created a truly vivid story of pain and agony that won’t be for all readers. But there is a reason this tale is classic in nature, because of the very tragic, yet human heart at its center.